BLOOMINGTON – Devonte Green clearly doesn't want to go back to the bench.
The sophomore guard got his second straight start Friday, scoring 19 points and adding a career-high seven assists to lead the Hoosiers to an 80-56 win against visiting Minnesota.
“I think mainly (I was) just hitting the open man, coming off the ball screens, seeing the bigs and keeping it simple,” Green said. “(I'm) not trying to make a home run play, not trying to make a difficult play, just seeing what's there and making that play.”
For the second straight game, Indiana (14-12, 7-7 Big Ten) got off to a lightning-quick start, building a 12-point lead barely eight minutes into the game. At that juncture, Green had as many points (eight) as the entire Minnesota team.
“I thought our guys were locked in, ready to play,” coach Archie Miller said. “They continue to establish the intensity level that we like. I think we've established, especially at home, an energy level we have to play with.”
The lead ballooned to 19 early in the second half when Green fed Robert Johnson with a one-handed bounce pass for a transition layup. The play elicited the loudest roar of the night from the Assembly Hall crowd, and Minnesota (14-13, 3-11) didn't seriously threaten again.
“We've really just been emphasizing sharing the ball, making the correct read, driving and passing, so I think that's been a big help the last few games,” Green said.
Green's passing was part of a larger trend of the Hoosiers excelling at sharing the ball. Indiana had 21 assists on 30 baskets, including a career-high five assists for forward Juwan Morgan, who also had 19 points and nine rebounds.
“Sharing the ball was something we talked a lot about, especially after our Michigan State game (Feb. 3), with having so many shots at the rim blocked,” Miller said.
“To go into the paint, starting here now, I think you start seeing some guys really look for another.”
The Indiana defense was solid, as well, holding Minnesota to just 33 percent from the field and 6-for-21 shooting from the 3-point line.
The Hoosiers did a particularly good job on the Golden Gophers' top two scorers. Jordan Murphy, the nation's leader in double-doubles, finished with 12 points and nine rebounds but had to work for everything he got, as the Hoosiers consistently sent two defenders at him.
“Really just trying to take away easy angles for him to score,” Morgan said of how the Hoosiers stopped Murphy. “Making every shot as tough as possible and not letting him get anything easy. I think that kind of took him out of his game and didn't let him get in too good of a rhythm.”
Guard Nate Mason, who came in averaging 16.4 points, had 18 but made just 6 of 20 shots from the field and rarely was able to get to the basket.
The only time the Golden Gophers really chipped away at the lead was midway through the first half. They sliced their deficit to as few as three before Green responded with a pair of triples and a nice bounce pass to Morgan for a layup on a pick-and-roll.